In this Saturday’s Austin American Statesman newspaper, I was shocked to see that Rasberry crazy ants were found in Central Texas!
Less than six month ago, in November 2011, I interviewed Dr. Jerry Cook, Associate Vice President of Sam Houston State University, at the 2011 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference.
During the first half of my video interview with Dr. Cook, he talked about his new Institute for the Study of Invasive Species. Afterwards, I asked him to tell me about the invasive species that he found the most interesting. He said he does a lot of work on ants and that he studied the red imported fire ants, but that his current favorite to work on was the Rasberry crazy ant (Nylanderia sp. near pubens).
At the time, he said that there were no sightings of crazy ants in Central Texas, but he predicted that they would be coming.
Sadly, in the back of my mind, I knew they were on the march and would be here one day. Yet, I was still surprised that it was so soon.
Stronger than fire ants?
The newspaper article said that the crazy ants were in a condominium in Briarcliff along the shores of Lake Travis, and they probably came from gardening material from Houston, where they were first found by a pest control man, Tom Rasberry, in 2002. (They named the ant after him.)
The ant probably came to Texas from South America, and Dr. Cook said they’re called crazy ants because they move around very quickly and erratically, moving here or there.
They can take over areas from fire ants, which may sound good, but they come in such massive numbers that they can overwhelm and suffocate wildlife, damage electrical systems, and make houses unlivable.
With so many and being so fast and numerous, they are hard to eradicate.
The news of crazy ants coming to Central Texas, so close to my own home, shows the importance of educating people about invasive species and preventing their spread.
Now that they are here, they’ll be very difficult to get rid of. :-(
P.S. Learn more about the Rasberry crazy ants:
Rasberry crazy ants starting to appear in Williamson and Travis counties
Great article in the Austin American Statesman
Rasberry crazy ants in the Texas Invasives database
The Texas Invasives database has a lot of information about all the different invasive plants, animals, insects, and pathogens that are trying to invade Texas.